NRL stars slam lack of consistency for obstruction

NRL Rd 4 -  Roosters v Panthers
Roosters players still aren’t sure why a spectacular Joseph Manu try was taken away last week, as calls grow louder for the NRL to change the obstruction rule. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Roosters halfback Sam Walker has called on the NRL to sort out the obstruction rule once and for all, declaring “there’s not a great deal of consistency” after teammate Joseph Manu was incorrectly denied a try in the 22-16 loss to Penrith.

The NRL has already admitted that the Bunker stuffed up by penalising Jared Waerea-Hargreaves for running through the line and allegedly blocking Dylan Edwards from getting to Manu even though he was 20 metres away.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary weighed in last Thursday and clearly had an issue with the rule as it currently stands.

“I’ll say one thing – I feel like every time we’ve done a black and white interpretation in rugby league, it’s been a failure,” he said.

“I’m not saying that was the case tonight – I’m not saying yes or no – but every time we have, it doesn’t work. That’s just my opinion.”

The Roosters felt like they should have been awarded a penalty in the second half when Liam Martin ran through and blocked Sitili Tupouniua and Luke Keary in the lead-up to a Sunia Turuva try, with both calls playing a crucial role in a game decided by six points.

“I’m not too sure where the rule’s at and what they’re deeming as contact,” Walker said on Monday morning.

“Sometimes they’re getting called back, sometimes they’re not getting called back.

“I’ve seen five this year that they’ve called the weirdest obstructions, but then other times they’ll be ‘oh he might have got there’ or ‘he might not have got there. We don’t think he’s going to get there’.

“There’s not a great deal of consistency with it all.

“I know as a player that it’s frustrating, but as a fan and the people that support the game, for them to sit there with your fingers crossed not knowing what’s going to happen, that would be quite frustrating.

“The sooner we come to a decision about it all and get it out of the way (will be great) because no one wants to be talking about obstruction rules.”

NRL Rd 4 -  Roosters v Panthers
Luke Keary appealed to the officials to check for an obstruction for one of Penrith’s tries. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The NRL’s admission mattered little to Roosters fans, but dummy-half Brandon Smith says it’s important that the game’s officials acknowledge when they get things wrong.

“They’re trying to eliminate black and white in the competition with their rulings, and that was one of them,” he said.

“I thought it was a pretty sketchy one. I didn’t know the obstruction was on Jared until the end of the game, so that was pretty weird.

“I guess it’d be frustrating for a few people, but I feel like it’s good ownership from the NRL to come out and say ‘we stuffed up’.

“It wouldn’t be easy to do that, and them acknowledging that they’ve made mistakes is (a good thing). I find it hard to acknowledge my own mistakes at times.

“It can be frustrating for fans and for players, but at the end of the day, if they’re acknowledging that they’re making mistakes – and as long as we can learn from them – then it’s sweet.”

Brandon Smith tried to copy Mitch Kenny’s tactic but it didn’t work.
Brandon Smith tried to copy Mitch Kenny’s tactic but it didn’t work.

As for the rule, Smith says it’s on the players to adapt to the interpretations, crediting Penrith for reacting quickly after hooker Mitch Kenny was accused of acting as a blocker for Nathan Cleary’s kicks.

“I’ve never been really good at understanding rules,” he joked.

“There are always new rule changes, and then something will happen with one team and they’ll make another rule change. It’s hard to keep up with, but that’s our game.

“I think the product that we have now is 10 times better than it was five years ago. Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing the right thing.

“You’ve got to keep adapting to the rule changes, and I guess that’s what Penrith do better than most teams.

“You saw what Mitch Kenny was doing. I watched that on video and tried to copy that, but somehow I tried to do it and Penrith figured out a way to stop it.”